Sports betting apps and addiction


Screenshot by Holly Edwards-Smith of Apple app store

Holly Edwards-Smith, Reporter

There are ads on TV constantly warning of the dangers of gambling, yet at the same time, there are ads from gambling services tempting people to bet.

While you can’t blame an organisation for promoting itself, we know that gambling is a dangerous habit to be parading on state and national television.

The introduction of mobile phones and the internet has led to the spread of gambling. Now playing pokies, placing a bet or playing against friends in poker or blackjack is at your fingertips at any time of day.

In Australia, popular betting apps, such as; Sportsbet, TAB, Ladbrokes and Neds collectively have in excess of 200,000 downloads on the app store.

The biggest surprise with these apps is that on the app store they all list the required age as 17+. Many require a license or identification verification in order to set up an account, pay or collect a payment, but children can access the apps to see odds and what is available.

In Australia, the legal age requirement to gain access to the casino is 18. Yet, a year early, children can access these apps and begin gambling with their money.

Gambling is an addictive activity, yet with extra accessibility that these apps have introduced, they are creating more reasons to start and continue betting.

The legislation for both gaming and racing is not up to date, with the most recent Act for racing being passed in 2009 and for Gaming passed in 1987.

Peter suffered from a gambling addiction for 35 years and uses his experience with it to help others, by volunteering with Gamblers Anonymous − a not-for-profit organisation which runs across Australia.

The service is made up of unpaid volunteers who use their knowledge and experience to help others.

Peter spoke to NewsvineWA about the calls he receives and what he would like to see for Australia’s gambling future.

Peter recalled recent calls with parents who, in both cases, had sons who had bet and lost in excess of $30,000.

In one case, a $50,000 inheritance was blown in just a few months and led to the father and son attending a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.

He said that with betting apps giving access to events here and around the world there are “a whole lot of young guys [who] are coming in with bets on American basketball and English soccer”, which is starting to cause problems.

I spoke to a variety of young men aged 20-23 and each said that they spent (on average) in excess of $30 a week on gambling.

The young men each laughed when asked about their weekly losses, which in most cases equaled what they bet that week.

Peter said that bonus bets and TV advertisements with ‘terms and conditions’ promote good deals but often are misleading to the younger demographic.

“[They offer] a really good deal for $50 bets but usually anymore and the deals don’t apply,” he said.

While Peter offered examples of people who can make frequent bets without becoming addicted or heavily impacting their finances, he believes we all can be vulnerable to addiction.

He believes the government should put a ban on gambling advertisements, saying the reason they don’t is that “they make money from gambling at casinos and through taxes.”

He continued, saying; “I don’t have a problem with gambling, drinking or cigarette smoking. I believe people are free to do things in their lives.” But he said the difference was that cigarettes/alcohol cost the government money in admissions to hospitals from related health problems.

“Gambling costs are held by the person and their friends and family,” he concluded.

Peter emphasised that “the longer gambling addiction stays hidden, the worse it gets. If you have a problem you need to speak to someone – whether it be a doctor, workmate or your parents.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling with gambling in any form below are local help services.

Gamblers Anonymous Australia (WA) – (08) 9487 0688
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Or your local GP